GForest, in simple terms, allows you to plant an actual tree by using GCash features within the app. It is a feature that tracks how much carbon footprint we lessen via the usage of the app.
In theory, when we use the app, we also lower our carbon emissions since we don’t need to commute or drive to the bank to deposit or withdraw; or go to the mall or to Bayad Center to pay our bills.
Ultimately, we also lessen paper waste by doing our transactions via the app. So this feature makes the use of the app “sticky” by making the user think of contributing to the environment while using the app. No other app in the country has done this and this makes it compelling.
How does GForest work?
Each feature in the app can be thought of as a carbon offset – and this is tokenized into “energy points” (EPs). As we use the app in our day-to-day activities, we also save up green energy points. These green energy points can then be collected to nurture a virtual tree.
As the virtual tree grows, you will notice that you will be able to earn enough EPs to trigger the planting of an actual tree. There are numerous locations selected by GCash, first in the Ipo Watershed, then in Alaminos, and then in Luyang for now. But eventually, we will be able to see more locations and with it more trees planted.
Partners that do the actual planting of the tree include private foundations (e.g., WWF, Biofin, Ayala Land Foundation, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, etc.) as well the government (via DENR).
How do we activate GForest?
Here is how to activate the feature:
- From the main page, click on GForest. In a recent update, you may need to click Show More and look for it under the Lifestyle & Shopping Section.
- On the next page, you will need to opt in by clicking on “I Want to Help”.
- You will see some details about GForest, and at the end, you need to click on “Allow Access”.
- Once access is granted you will be shown the tree.
How do we generate Green Energy Points?
There are multiple use cases in the app that currently generate energy points (EPs) – pay bills, buy load, pay QR and bank transfer, and actual walking. As of a recent update, they’ve expanded this to include online cash-in, save money, and express send. Each activity has a specific EP contribution and each EP will be credited after a business day or so.
However, there is a cap imposed on how many EPs a user can generate in a month. This is to prevent gaming the system.
|GCash Transaction Type||Transaction Limits|
|Walking||20000 steps (276g) |
|Buy Load||30 per month|
|Bank Transfer||10 per month|
|Pay Bills||20 per month|
|Online Cash-in||10 per month|
|Send Money||10 per month|
|Save Money||30 per month|
|Invest Money||30 per month|
|Book Movies||10 per month|
Generating via Pay Bills
Each bill you pay has an equivalent of around 250 energy points. EP can be credited at a limit of 20 transactions per month. With GCash’s breadth of billers, this is probably the fastest way you can generate EPs, especially during paydays.
Generating via Buy Load
There is a minimum amount of 100 per transaction and each purchase can net you around 100 EPs. There is also a 30 transaction limit per month. This is probably the easiest to do, and you can also pair it with the cash rebate to make it worth your while.
Generating via Bank Transfer
Again, there is a minimum amount of 100 needed to be able to be eligible for EP generation. And each transfer is also around 130 EPs. With GCash able to transfer to any bank via Instapay, this should also be straightforward enough to do. There is a cap of 10 transactions per month.
Generating via Walking
To be able to generate EPs for walking, you will need to opt-in usage of walking data from the default health app on your phone. So for IOS it would be the IOS HealthKit, for Samsung phones it would be Samsung Health, and for the other Android phones, it would be Google Fit. These fitness apps should be operational first as they provide the needed data to your GForest.
How to opt-in your health app to GCash
You need to click on the Note icon on your tree page and allow permission to link your GCash app to your respective health app.
GCash gets the walk count and generates a certain amount of EP per step generated. This is convenient for those who like to walk or run. You can generate EPs up to 20,000 steps per day.
Generating via Online Cash-in
You can now gain EPs by doing online cash-in, meaning bank cash-ins like BPI, Unionbank, or debit card cash-ins are included. There is a minimum of Php 100 before it triggers a 56g EP bubble. You can potentially get lots of EPs by just enrolling in any cash-in channel online, but it has a cap of 10 per month.
Generating via Save Money
Yes, you can now also get EPs by using GSave. Depending on the amount, it can trigger up to 131g. This is another way to generate EPs during paydays. However, there are some conditions having a minimum of Php 100 trigger amount, and a cap at 30 transactions per month.
Generating via Express Send
This is another way to get EPs now, but the minimum trigger amount is still Php 100. You can get up to 131g by just sending money. The number of times you can do this per month is also capped at 10.
Generating via Book Movies
Another way to get EPs is to use Book Movies. But there is a cap of 10 per month.
What do EPs look like?
Here is an example, with a mixture of walking and Pay Bills EPs. Unclaimed EPs have a lifetime of 3 days before disappearing. You need to click on it as soon as you can to prevent friends from stealing your EPs.
When do we get EPs?
There are no specific times EPs get generated, so I suggest you check your GForest regularly. The GCash app will also give your reminders to check for EPs once you miss them.
You can also see your EP generation history by going to Plant -> History.
Is there a hack to gain EPs?
No, you can only do so via the means I mentioned above. You can gain a lot of EPs by adding a lot of friends and claiming regularly.
Can we add friends to GForest?
We can add our friends to GForest and have a personal leader board. This encourages competition and consistent logging into the app every day. We can add a total of 300 friends.
You can steal small amounts from your friends in your friend list – a 5g-25g here and there to make your tree even bigger. If you have a lot of friends, harvesting EPs is easy as not all of them are active using GForest. However, on the flip side, your active friends can steal points from you.
Can we unfriend in GForest?
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to unfriend. Think of it instead as contributing to a whole, those EPs may not have been harvested by you because you’ve forgotten to harvest them. We should think of it that at least it was taken with the purpose of planting a tree.
To help with easing the feeling of being stolen from, I recommend adding as many friends as you can and stealing from them every day. Most of the time, there are those that will forget to log in and you can mercilessly get their EPs.
What happens after you have stored enough EPs for your tree?
You can select which tree you want to be planted. You have a choice between a lot of different varieties. After planting the virtual tree, you will then get a badge signaling your support in getting an actual tree planted. I don’t think they really put your name in the tree, and nor do you get ownership of the tree. However, you do get a badge and a certificate in-app once you’ve planted yours.
Ultimately, you get to help in conserving our watersheds – a recent example is since 2019 we’ve had rationing for both Maynilad and Manila Water due to water shortage.
I would recommend you not waste any time and plant a tree as soon as your EPs allow it. It is better to put your EPs into action than to store them and not use them at all.
What varieties of trees can you plant?
Due to a recent update, we can now choose a lot more varieties of trees. Before we were limited to Narra, Dungon, and Yakal. After a number of updates, the number of locations has increased as well as the number of varieties of trees that can be planted.
- Ipo Watershed
- The Ayala Land Carbon Forest Alaminos
- Luyang Watershed
- Davao Carbon Forest
- Cebu Carbon Forest
- Tañon Strait
- Bakhaw Babae
- Bakhaw Lalake
Can you plant multiple trees?
You can plant as many trees as you like, as long as your points reach them. You will be receiving a certificate for each tree you’ve planted. Here, I’ve planted another Yakal tree since my first one. I’ve also planted a Dungon.
Is there proof that there is a real GForest out there?
Yes, you can check it in the certificate you get when you plant a virtual tree.
Also, recently there was news that the 1 millionth tree has been planted.
Here is an article that documented the planting of saplings in the Ipo Watershed. Here is a press release for the coconut plantation in Socsargen. Here is another GForest press release for Luyang Watershed in Carmen, Cebu. Ayala Land has always had a program for its carbon forests in Alaminos, Cebu, and Davao (Ayala is part owner of GCash).
Does GForest contribute to GScore?
Yes, because by doing any EP generating activity you also contribute to your GScore. Ultimately, it encourages us to use GCash more often. The more you log into GCash every day, the more your GScore goes up.
We’ve seen how GForest can be a sticky feature in making sure GCash is actively used by its users and in doing so, the users can contribute to green initiatives. By doing these activities, we can generate energy points (EPs), eventually enabling us in planting an actual tree.
We can generate Energy Points by:
- turning on your health app and walking
- buying load
- paying bills
- cashing in online channels
- sending money
- saving money
- patronizing green merchants
- using book movies
- transferring to any bank in GCash
An actual tree is planted by WWF or by a foundation partner once we have enough EPs stored and we use it to plant a virtual tree. This would help in reforestation and we would be helping communities in those areas to become more sustainable as well.
If you’d like to learn more about GCash, I created a how-to on the basics of GCash.
Here is a list of links if you’re interested in the main GCash features: